How to Save Money on Food While Traveling


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
I love traveling. As a work from home person, I can get pretty susceptible to cabin fever. And that’s why I always take any opportunity I can find to spend time outside the house. There’s nothing like experiencing new places and meeting new people. And my travels don’t even need to be very far. Simply visiting a different city a few hours away is enough to recharge my spirits. And I’m sure that applies to just about everyone, whether they work at home or in a regular office.

What I don’t love about traveling, though, is the cost. Travel costs may not seem like much when you look at them individually, but they all add up. Bus tickets and meals in diners may seem cheap, and they certainly are, but when you add them up in the course of a single journey, the expense gets to be pretty considerable.

That isn’t a reason to avoid traveling, though. If anything, this is a chance for you to visit different locations and challenge your money-saving skills. And I need to clarify that saving money and being thrifty doesn’t mean cheap. Being thrifty means you try to save money without sacrificing quality. Cheap is just crappy.

This post will give you all the cool tips and great techniques to save on dining while you’re out travelling. These saving tricks will be useful whether you’re on a short or long trip, and whether you’ll be roughing it or staying in a comfortable hotel. This article should also be helpful whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned traveler. If you’re the latter, I hope you pick up a few tips here that will help you on your next journey. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get this show on the road!

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Make Reservations Early

This is one of the basic tips every seasoned traveler will give you. The cost of food (as well as accommodations and transportation) costs more the closer your reservations are to the actual date. If possible, make any hotel reservations weeks, and even months, if possible, ahead. You won’t just save on money, you won’t have to stress on running out of slots when it’s time to leave.

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Pack Non-Perishable Snacks

Making frequent stops for snacks can cost a lot of both time and money. Whenever my family and I go on road trips, we like to stock up on non-perishable snacks. This includes chips, packs of nuts, energy bars, and some candy for the kids (which we ration carefully). We also have a cooler packed with bottled water and canned soft drinks. By bringing our own food, we don’t have to look for places to stock up on food whenever someone in the car gets snacky (which, I will admit, is usually me!).

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Look Out for Buffets

Buffets are a great option for saving money on food when you’re travelling. I think this is an economical option even if not everyone in your travel group has a big appetite. As long as a few people eat over two or three servings, that’s enough to offset the overall cost of a buffet dinner for your family.

If you don’t have a big appetite, I would argue that buffets are an affordable way to sample more food than in a regular restaurant. If you ate in a regular restaurant, you would be required to buy whole orders of food. Aside from costing more, you might not be able to finish all the food.

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Diners are Your Friend

If you want a more affordable dining option when you’re out traveling, try diners or small eateries. It’s no secret that fancy restaurants can get pricey. But diners are great budget-friendly options. In addition to being cheaper, the great thing about eating at diners is that you get to sample regional versions of certain recipes. One of my favorite diners, which I visit once every year or so, has the best ribs that I simply can’t find anywhere else. Oh, and diners are usually mom and pop businesses, and it’s always great to patronize small establishments.

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Use a Credit Card that Earns You Rewards

I know this goes contrary to my usual advice to avoid using credit cards and stick to cash. But if you have a credit card that earns you rewards, you using it could actually be beneficial. If you earn points that you could use, either as additional airline miles or food and hotel perks, using a credit card could actually be a great money-saving method! Of course, you should always review the interest rates of your credit card, as well as any available perks, before relying on it too much during your travels.

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Stock Up on Resources Using a Rewards Site

All the tips in this article are about saving money. This tip, however, is about making money before your trip. A rewards site will pay you – either in cash or gift cards – for answering surveys and watching videos. I recommend two sites – GrabPoints and ZoomBucks (which are owned by the same company) for a simple reason: they offer fast payout processing times. Both sites will give you your earnings within 48 hours. That’s blazing fast, and that means you’ll be able to use your earnings to stock up on travel necessities in time for your trip.

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Consider All-In Travel Packages

A trip gets costlier if you pay for each item – whether it’s food, transportation, accommodations, or entertainment – separately. Luckily, there are tours that offer all of those items for a reasonable price. And since you’re getting an all-in travel package, the overall price is cheaper than if you paid for each one separately. This is sort of like the travel version of buying your groceries in bulk. Make sure you ask your favorite travel agency about any all-in packages they might have available.

The only downside to this is that you’ll be tied to whatever is in the trip package. But you can always as your travel agent if you can replace certain items.

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I revisited this topic and wrote even more ways to save money on travel here:
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